American Airlines, creditors discuss 5 merger partners -source

NEW YORK, July 10 Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:33pm EDT

NEW YORK, July 10 (Reuters) - AMR Corp will reach out to at least five airlines, including US Airways Group and JetBlue Airways Corp, under its plan to evaluate potential mergers and other strategic options, a source familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

The bankrupt parent of American Airlines also plans to look at Alaska Air Group, Frontier Airlines - a unit of Republic Airways -- and Virgin America as potential merger partners, the source said.

American executives mentioned these five airlines as potential merger candidates at a meeting with its unsecured creditors committee on Tuesday and discussed the merits and challenges of each combination, said the source, who asked not to be identified because the matter is not public.

American Chief Executive Tom Horton said earlier on Tuesday that the carrier is going ahead with plans to evaluate potential mergers and will reach out to interested parties, but did not identify those parties.

Private equity firms, other U.S. legacy carriers or even foreign airlines may express interest in a potential deal once the third-largest U.S. airline starts the evaluation work, the source said.

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